Nightmares and night terrors are pretty common among children and as any parent knows, if the child is not sleeping peacefully, no one in the family is.
Alysa Dobson, a Certified Child Sleep Consultant shared some information that would come in handy for parents who are dealing with these issues.
Dobson explained that people often use the terms 'nightmare' and 'night terrors' interchangeably but they are actually two different things. She examined them both separately and gave insights on what parents can do for their kids.
This simply refers to scary dreams that occur during REM sleep. A child awakens from a nightmare and seeks comfort from you. You may notice your child appearing frightened even when he is fully awake and the dream is over. It commonly occurs during the second half of night when sleep is the most intense.
What can be done:
- Look around your child's room and take out anything that may evoke fear in her. You should also monitor the TV shows she watches, the books she reads, the games she plays, etc, to see if anything could be causing their nightmares.
- After a nightmare, offer comfort but encourage the child to go back to sleep.
- Dobson advises that checking for 'monsters' under the beds will only confirm to the child that they are real and could hide in places. So, avoid doing this.
- You don't need to ask her to describe her nightmare. Just focus on reassuring her and getting her back to sleep.
Night terrors are not as common in kids as nightmares. But when they do occur, they can begin in early childhood and can last into the school years. Dobson described a night terror as "a partial arousal from very deep, non-dreaming sleep," adding that it can be caused by a fever or a disruption in the child's sleep schedule.
Features of night terror include the child screaming, thrashing and panicked sounds/action. He may begin running wildly as if being chased or trying to run from something. Unlike nightmares, being awake does not really put an end to the situation. The child may even seem not to recognise you when you approach. Eventually, the symptoms will disappear when the child calms down.
Here are some tips for parents.
- Make sure his immediate environment is safe. Remove any object that can cause injuries during an episode. You can also place a gate at the top of the stairs to prevent falls.
- Try not to interfere during an event but monitor your child to ensure she is safe.
- Gently get your child back into bed when the night terror ends.
- Avoid discussing the incident with your child as she will have no memory of the event and may even feel confused.
- Ensure your child gets enough sleep as night terrors often cause children to get less sleep.
In both scenarios, staying calm is very important so as to avoid getting your child freaked out or even more anxious about sleep.
This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended to provide medical advice. Mambee doesn’t take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this post. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the readers should consult with their physician or other healthcare providers.